turturro

When I was ten years old, I was a member of a swim team at a local country club. This is the sort of thing you do when you are a fairly well-off white child growing up in Minnesota. That country club was the setting of the single weirdest incident of my lifetime. This is what occurred.

Swim practices were twice a week every week during the summer. I’d go to the club’s indoor pool, swim laps for 45 minutes (sucked), and then practice was over. Lots of kids would stay after practice to dick around in the pool. I was one of those kids. The pool had a diving board. A good one. One of those green ones that’s really long and way fucking springy. I am 33 years old, and I could still spend 9 hours of a summer day doing stupid shit off a diving board. It never gets old. If I were rich, I would install an Olympic diving platform in my palacio. But I digress.

Near the shallow end of the pool was the pool area’s reception desk. There was always a staffer at the desk. The entrance to the boys’ locker room was located right behind the desk. You walked in, and on the right was an open shower area. Gang showers. Past the showers were the lockers.

Decorum for washing up after being in the pool was as follows: You get out of the pool, go to the desk, call your folks to pick you up, go to the shower with your Speedo still on (tight!), rinse off, take off your suit, rinse the suit, hang the suit on the showerhead, then shower as normal. This is what all the kids did, and I did as well.

One day, I stayed late after practice to dick around on the diving board. The pool cleared out to the point where I was the only one left. Cue after school special theme music. I get out of the pool, call my folks, and hop in the shower. I’m in the shower area taking a shower, with my bathing suit still on, when the following occurs.

A man, in his 20’s or 30’s, walks up to the entrance of the gang shower area. He’s Hispanic. He’s wearing chinos and a horizontal striped shirt that is far too tight for his somewhat chubby body. He has a wispy mustache. The only thing missing from his molester getup are thick glasses. He looks at me and smiles. Then, he steps into the gang shower area, still fully clothed, and mutters something unintelligible in Spanish. Then, he begins advancing toward me.

Now, this was the 1980’s. At this time, I have the good fortune of growing up in the Golden Era of Child Molestation Education. At virtually every grade level, my classmates and I are told time and again by teachers and school administrators to avoid strangers, even if they have candy. We are told not to get in cars with strangers. We are told not to talk to strangers on the phone. And we are told to NEVER open the door for a stranger. Ever. HE MIGHT BREAK IN AND MOLEST THE SHIT OUT OF YOU! I have also seen the Gordon Jump episode of “Diff’rent Strokes.” It affects me deeply.

We are constantly being reminded that there are strangers out there looking for schoolboy asstang, and that we must always stay vigilant. They WILL try and molest you. It gets to the point where, warned so many times, I begin wondering just where the fuck all these terrible child molesters are. I never saw one. Maybe I was too fat. I was probably too fat. Regardless, I am taught to always keep my head on a swivel for pederasts, and so I do.

Now, back to the shower. The man is coming at me. Since I have been given warning after warning about potential child molesters, a blaring siren immediately goes off in my head. WISPY MUSTACHE! FULLY CLOTHED IN A BOYS SHOWERING AREA! CREEPY SMILE! HOLY SHIT!

The man comes closer. He stretches out his hand and reaches for me. More specifically, he reaches for my ass. I remember this vividly because, until that point, no one had EVER tried to touch my ass. I would sit up at night and PRAY from some girl to come by one day and touch my ass, then make her way round the bend for stickwork. Just my luck it’s Jesus Quintana now trying to do so.

My brain springs into action. “This is it! This is what you’ve been trained for! YOU’VE MET A MOLESTER!” I am both terrified of this AND genuinely excited that I am face to face with a real criminal. It’s like finally getting to the final bossman in any Mega Man game of your choice. Again, we kids of the 1980’s are trained for this shit. Live combat has finally arrived.

Immediately, I run around the man and back into the general pool area. The man makes no real effort to accost me. I have never been fast or strong, so accosting me would have been simple. But Creepy McWispyStache never bothers to try. Perhaps I wasn’t worth the effort. Whatever. I run to the reception and begin shouting to the receptionist.

“A MAN IN THERE TRIED TO MOLEST ME!”

“What?!”

“THERE WAS A CREEPY GUY IN THERE AND HE TRIED TO TOUCH MY ASS!”

The receptionist calls the police. She goes into the locker room to look for the man. He’s gone. The police arrive quickly and ask me what happened.

Up to this point, I have had only one encounter with the police, and that was when my mom left me in the car one day in Chicago while she ran in to a store to do an errand. Sitting in the passenger seat, I grabbed the automatic shift of her car, jammed it into neutral (hey, why not?), and the car gently rolled into a parked police cruiser. The cop got out, got me out of the car, and let me sit in his car while waiting to give my mom shit for leaving me to my own devices (in my mom’s defense, this was the 80’s). When I did that, I knew I was in big fucking trouble, but also totally jazzed to be in the center of a police investigation. And I got to sit in his car. It was AWESOME.

Now, once more, I have the same rush of excitement in the wake of this. HOLY SHIT! COPS ARE HERE! AND I’M A WITNESS AND EVERYTHING! They take me with them as they search the club for the man. We get to a kitchen area and the man is working in the back. I see him. He does not see me. I scream out THERE HE IS! I point. Within nanoseconds, the cops have the guy up against the wall and are cuffing him behind the back. Do not fuck with Minnesota cops. I am quickly escorted out and allowed to go home with my folks, who are clearly shaken by the whole thing.

Some time later, the policeman who arrested the guy comes by our house and asks me to give a recorded statement. He turns on the Dictophone and I tell the story. Again, I am excited by all this attention. I’m an odd kid.

COP: And where did he try to touch you?

ME: Can I say ass?

COP: You can say anything you want.

ME: On my ass. My left ass.

The cop thanks me for the statement, tells me the suspect faces 15 years in jail, and that’s that. I never hear from the police or courts about the matter again. Did the guy go to jail? Was he an illegal alien? Was he deported? I have no clue. But what I DO decide is that there is no fucking way I’m showering in that fucking locker room alone ever again. Whenever practice ends after that, I leap out of the fucking pool and make sure the gang shower is as crowded with fellow ten-year-olds as humanly possible. And if everyone else decides to get out, then I get the fuck out of there too. Years later, I encountered gang showers again at prep school and other places. From time to time, I would be alone in those showers, seemingly over my phobia, when I’d think to myself, “Wait a second, creepy mustache fucker could walk in here and FINISH THE JOB.” Then I’d hurry the fuck out. Didn’t happen every time, but sometimes.

I rarely think about this story anymore, because nothing really happened. The guy never got to me, and certainly I wasn’t subjected to the kind of trauma that someone like Laveraneus Coles and others – real and true victims of terrible abuse – were. It was just this bizarre fucking incident that occasionally pops up in my head. Oh yeah, THAT happened. That was creepy.

I wonder, on very rare occasions, where that dude is. If he went to jail for a long time, did he swear revenge on me, do shitloads of pull-ups, and tattoo the scales of justice on his back? Will I be mowing the lawn one day when that prick will pop out of the bushes, say something unintelligible in Spanish, and try and touch my ass again? I was at the wedding of a very old friend last month. His mom was there. She hadn’t seen me in twenty years. She looked at me and said, “Drew, you look EXACTLY the same.” And I do. I look like a little fat kid, weight loss or not. And I act the exact same as well. So Mr. Molester could probably recognize me if he saw me. Will he have his vengeance? Is he waiting outside? Right now? As we speak? Will I be pussytubed?

Nahhhhhhhhhhhh.